152 of 155 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2012
I'm one of the few survivors of the K2 'triumph and tragedy' expedition in 2008! I wrote a book myself 'Surving K2', i read a lot about this historical expedition. A lot of crap was written, mostly by people who have no idea or understanding what mountaineering is all about. But this book 'Buried in the Sky' surpasses my expectations. All the media attention was focused on the Western climbers. This book describe in detail the cultural difference and importance of the Eastern climbers. On one hand we think we are living in two separated worlds, and on the other hand (especially when climbing mountains together) we are one and the same human beings. We have to face the same problems in our families when disasters happens. But the brilliant thing of this book is the accuracy and precision of the almost 4 years of research after the whole tragedy happend. Even i was surprised in details reading the story of the lives of the Sherpa's but mostly the lives of the HAP's (Pakistani High Altitude climbers).
A must to read!
60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2012
You don't need to be a mountaineer to enjoy this book. It's an intoxicating story of courage and ambition at the edges of survival. And, for me at least, it was more than that, too - a window into a culture that fundamentally challenges the way I look at the world. I loved the book, and when I finished it, I felt smarter.
The story literally starts with a cliffhanger. It's midnight. Two freezing Sherpas are climbing without ropes, dodging falling blocks of ice. Then they slip, sliding down the deadliest stretch of of K2, a mountain in Pakistan that's considered much more dangerous and difficult than Everest.
Then it's about 30 years earlier. We're in the Sherpas' villages. We learn how the older Sherpas consider mountain climbing a sin, how mountain gods shape the lives of the Sherpas, why Sherpas almost always have one of seven names. We follow the main character, Chhiring Dorje Sherpa. His mother dies, his dad goes mad, his family needs to
eat and Chhiring, at age 14 starts climbing Everest. He eventually becomes one of the best climbers in the world, escorting the more celebrated western mountaineers up peak after peak.
As Chhiring and others start to climb K2 and the 2008 disaster unfolds, characters who dislike each other are forced to hang from the same ropes. A giant block of ice breaks off all the ropes, trapping the climbers near near the summit. Some people are buried alive. Some go crazy or freeze or are left to hang tangled in rope. Several are heroically saved under devastating conditions. The Sherpas, in many cases, save the day.
In all, "Buried in the Sky" is incredible storytelling and an eye-opening education. It's one of the best non-fiction books I have read in decades.
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2012
This book sets the gold standard for a new style of mountaineering literature. Not only does it make visible the indigenous climbers upon whom everyone else's success depends, but it provides an inside look at the cultures and the spiritual traditions that enable them to face death on one expedition after another and to risk their lives to save others. Amazingly, it is a fast moving adventure story as well.
Zuckerman and Padoan are to be commended for their attention to detail as they convey the essence of Balti, Ajak Bhote and Sherpa culture from an insider's point of view. If you've ever wanted to know more about Himalayan mountaineering than the story from the western point of view, or wanted to get past the travelogue portrayals of the high altitude climbing sherpas whatever their ethnicity, this is the one book that covers both.
And finally, this is the story of a unique hero by anyone's standards. Chhiring Dorjee deserves to be a household name and his actions a model for all mountaineers. Climbers speak often of the brotherhood of the rope. Chhiring lived up to the highest level of that ideal with his inspiring quote, "we will either live together or die together" and his life saving actions that day. Not surprisingly, he also also engages in village development work during his free time, proving that the ideals of cooperative mountaineering are useful elsewhere.
Of course I am somewhat biased as I am an anthropologist with a mountaineering background ,who has studied Chhring's home area of Rolwaling Valley for almost 40 years. And yes, I know him personally.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
As a fan of Into Thin Air and an uncle to the authors, I was looking forward to this book about the conquest of K2 from the viewpoint of the high altitude workers commonly referred to as Sherpas. Once I started reading this book I couldn't put it down. The authors provide a look into Sherpa culture and the conflict between that culture, the desire to conquer the worlds most difficult summits, and also secure a financial advantage for their families who live an impoverished life in a spectacular setting. The climbing sequences are gripping, heroic, and tragic. I felt that I could hear the ice crack and the avalanches roar as they crushed and consumed the unfortunate. As with most tragic accidents a series of small missteps and bad judgment lead to the death of 11 climbers in one day in August 2008. I have no desire to scale 8000 meter peaks but if you ever do be sure to bring enough rope!
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I could not put this book down: I found myself reading until 3:30 in the morning because I needed to find out what happened to the K2 climbers. I've read several mountaineering books including "Into Thin Air." What I especially enjoyed about this book was the first half, which explored the back stories, religion, and culture of the Sherpa climbers. The authors' extensive research provides a new perspective that I haven't encountered in other climbing books that focus mainly on Western climbers.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2012
I am not a mountaineer, but find the adventure intoxicating! The individuals that endeavor to set climbing these mountains as a goal are inspiring. The suspense and emotion conveyed in the writing was tremendous. This book provides information on the history of the region, more history on climbing, and insight into the lives of the people that make a living from climbing the tallest mountains in the world. I finished it in two days and felt like I had been there. Thank you so much for giving those of us who will not be adding this challenge to our "bucket list" the chance to experience it, to a small degree, from the safety of sea level!
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2012
Buried in the Sky is one of those books I wished would never end, not only because the narrative element is so strong, but because it summoned me out of my easy chair and into a truly extraordinary world. I am not a climber myself, but I love books like this that allow me to escape from the comfortable day-to-day, to feel that I've experienced something different, and that I've been enlightened in the process.
Zuckerman and Padoan have created far more than a white-knuckle account of mountaineering gone wrong. They have offered a unique portrait of climbing in the Himalayas, not from the primary point-of-view of of their (usually caucasian) alpinists, but from that of two porters caught in the 2008 disaster on K-2. Within minutes of picking up the book, I was deeply involved in both the best and most dangerous ways in the lives of Chhiring Dorje and Pasang Lama, learning about their country, their religious beliefs, the political and economic circumstances that molded these two men, and far more. Most important to me was the deeply felt humanity the authors brought to their two heros, and to those who died on K-2 during those fateful summer days, four years ago.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is a wonderful book, well researched, carefully documented, absolutely accurate and beautifully written and edited. It is a true adventure that takes the reader into the world of climbing Nepali Sherpas and Pakistani High Altitude Porters (HAPs), a world seldom experienced and little understood by westerners. We usually only hear about the westerners on the mountains and even in death most Eastern Sherpas and HAPs are not identified by name in news reports. The book weaves a true tale of tragedy, courage, and humanity about the most skilled climbers in the world who carry the rest of us to the top of unforgiving mountains inhabited by their goddesses. It is also the story of their culture, their families, and physiologically why they are especially adapted to climbing at high altitudes. This book leads us into their world.
My husband and I have a personal interest in this story and have carefully followed the books published about the 2008 tragedy on K2 as Jumik and Tshering Bhote, Nepali Sherpa friends of ours, were on that mountain. They are brothers of Pemba, our lead Sherpa on our visits to Nepal. They have cared for us, driven us, guided us, and befriended us, as Sherpas do. Jumik lost his life when a serac fell on him. Tshering survived but will be forever marked by that terrible event as will his family, also friends of ours. I wish that I could say Jumik died in a place where he wanted to be doing what he loved; but, truthfully, he was doing what he could to provide for his family. People in that part of the world mostly live in abject poverty. Money can be made in the mountains, risky as climbing is. Jumik, and the other HAPs and Sherpas, do not climb for the love of climbing. They climb for money. Jumik was doing honorable work for honorable reasons, and this book honors his memory as well as all of those Sherpas and HAPs who were on the mountain that day. It tells the story of terrible death and great heroism and why these skilled mountaineers climb. It introduces us to their humanity as well as ours.
I urge you to enter this world through the eyes of Amanda and Peter. You will be glad you did.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2012
One of the most comprehensive guides to the literature of climbing and exploration in the Himalaya, and surrounding areas, is the third edition of Yakushi's "Catalogue of the Himalayan Literature" (1994) with over 9,000 books listed. Last year (2011) a fourth edition was published with an even more impressive number of books listed. In this rich source it is quite surprising to find only very few books that deal with the perspective of the native or local climbers, the HAPs (high altitude porters) or, as they were being referred to in the colonialist days, the "coolies". One the reasons for this might be found in the fact that a great number of these people were illiterate. Another explanation could well be that the "Westerners" would rather have their side of the story published for their own private glory and to secure themselves future sponsorship deals. The local climbers though, the Sherpa, the Balti and many more, do have an interesting story to tell. It is important they find a voice to speak for them and to tell their tale.
In the history of Himalayan literature only a couple of these stories have found their way to the general public. Tenzing's autobiographies ("Tiger of the Snow" and "After Everest") are important examples and probably the ones that are best known. "Servant of Sahibs" is the autobiography of Ghulam Rassul Galwan who, in the 1890's worked on a number of expeditions and it was published in 1923. An absolute rarity but a jewel of a book is "Mémoires d'un Sherpa" which tells the story of the life of Ang Tharkay. He was one of the most famous and important Sherpas of the early days of Himalayan mountaineering. With Eric Shipton he was on eight of his expeditions and on the 1950 expedition to Annapurna he was sirdar, or "head of the porters" who are accompanying and supporting an expedition.
To this small stack of books a new and important addition has seen the light of day. "Buried in the Sky", by Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan, deals with the tragic events of the early days of August 2008 when 11 people lost their lives on the flanks of K2; that most beautiful, but equally dangerous and at times lethal, second highest summit on Earth. The book tells the tale from the perspective of the Sherpas who courageously risked everything to support the teams that hired them. They risked life and limb, displaying loyal acts of bravery and some of them indeed had to pay for this with their life. The way the story is presented in this book is objective, which is good. It's of no real use to be pointing with fingers to find the good and the bad guys. This tragedy - like so many others - is a thing of the past and those who could - and maybe should've done better - will have to worry and wail about this for years to come.
It is a great credit to the authors that they give these courageous men a voice in a thoroughly researched and well written and gripping account. To try and measure yourself against a most worthy opponent as K2 is no child's play. To rise beyond the average in life and risk all to save a fellow climber is a thing that is only reserved for true heroes. This book is about a number of these brave characters. In this story full of tragedy and drama, the highest and lowest of emotions, the humanity of the people and the horror of death vie for first place. All the ingredients in this story make this book a highly entertaining read. The people involved truly come alive on the pages and for me it was impossible to put this book down so I read it in one go, cover to cover. These authors have done a marvellous job.
As a reader, who exclusively prefers non-fiction mountaineering books, I've thoroughly enjoyed this read, even when it's dealing with serious matters and emotions, for it is a well balanced and excellent account. Any mountaineering library or bibliography that takes itself serious should have and list this book. It corrresponds with what a devoted and knowledgeable reader can expect to find only in the best of books. That's why I have no other choice and give this book my highest praise and the best recommendation imaginable.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2012
I never thought a book like this would interest me as I have a fear of wide open spaces and heights. I thought the cover was pretty so I started thumbing through the pages. It is written so well it engages you not far into the story. The plight of the sherpas will tear your heart out...something so few people know anything about.
It was quite an interesting education into a sport that I think is bordering on on the ridiculous.
It's a great fast summer read....you won't be able to put it down.